Michael Jackson: One
by Otis Stokes

L ike most everybody between the ages of 5 and 75, I am an avid Michael Jackson fan. I was a kid just a few years older than Michael when he burst onto the scene with the Jackson 5 in 1969, so I am well aware of his impact on pop culture. After recently catching “Michael Jackson: One,” Cirque du Soleil’s most recent addition to their long list of stage productions, I understand even more how special Jackson was as a performer. The show is aptly titled “Michael Jackson: One,” and the “one” in the title is the operative word, because he was “one” of a kind, the “one” and only, and no “one” else like him. He was truly an original. From singing voice, to dance moves, and stage presence, Jackson was the ultimate entertainer, someone who had the ability to mesmerize audiences at will. This show, directed by Jamie King, is the second creative project to be developed between Cirque du Soleil and the estate of Michael Jackson after “Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour,” which was recently named the eighth best grossing tour of all time. One of the most glaring differences in the production at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, and the “World Tour,” is that the music was pre-recorded, as opposed to the band that energetically performed each Michael Jackson song live and flawlessly each night. That being said, this stellar production still has all of the elements Jackson would have approved of. According to the press release, the show is “driven by Michael’s powerful, multi-layered music, heard like never before in a riveting, state-of-the-art surround-sound environment . ‘One’ takes the audience through a series of seamless visual and musical tableaux, at the heart of a world that is in turn majestic, playful, magical and heart-warming.” That just about says it all. The sound is definitely one of the highlights, because to hear “Billie Jean,” Thriller,” Beat It,” “Smooth Criminal” and hit after Michael Jackson hit with such volume and clarity, makes it worth the price of admission. Jamie King, who started his career as a dancer on Michael’s “Dangerous World Tour,” managed to somehow capture the artist’s vision and belief that all people are unique and equal, regardless of race or culture, including his advocacy of unity, harmony and hope for a better world. That message is certainly reflected throughout by utilizing a diverse cast of 63 dancers and performers during an impressive display of aerial stunts, dazzling acrobatics and intricate choreography which certainly does justice to Jackson’s legacy. Although the storyline is spotty at best, this doesn’t distract from the overall production. What the show lacks in narrative, it more than makes up for in staging, costuming and performances. After the final bows, you leave this custom-built theater with renewed compassion for the music and message of an oftentimes tortured soul, who only wanted to love and be loved. And if somehow, within this fantasyland created in “Michael Jackson: One,” that is the story being told, then Michael can rest in peace.